Posted by: Chris Brew | October 9, 2009

Finding the lost symbol

Famous schlock author Dan Brown pounded through the keyboard in search of his lost symbol. After much reflection he had realized that on 28 February 2002 his keyboard had lost one of the most important symbols that it had ever had. Those royalty statements from Lisbon were looking very different. What had happened? All his royalties were down by a ratio of  200$018 to €1. Surely this must be a conspiracy which had been established at the highest level of the Catholic Church! And this wasn’t just a matter of global concern and an opportunity for bestsellers ; it had happened to Mr. Brown’s very own predictive word association football keyboard. The indignity! The shame! Handsome chisel jawed Dr. Brown, 5 foot 3, not Jewish, not wearing a yarmulke,  not wearing anything painful around his left thigh, honestly, couldn’t think what to do. This was bathos! This was information that the reader could ever need! This was a poorly formulated parallel structure! How could he be expected to turn out well formed paragraphs? Why was he worrying about this? when had anybody ever expected this from him? What was the lost symbol, and how much was the royalty statement?

The answer from Wikipedia is that the lost symbol is called the cifrao and that it represents a sum of currency under the old Portuguese system of escudos and thousands of the escudo. The royalty statement hadn’t changed, but Dan Brown’s expectations had and so had the way in which the monetary sum was represented. But at least the last symbol had been found!!


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